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Official Obituary of

Richard ''Dick'' Hayden Bromund

April 28, 1940 ~ March 15, 2024 (age 83) 83 Years Old

Richard ''Dick'' Bromund Obituary

Richard ‘Dick’ Hayden Bromund, husband of Virginia Carol Bussert Pett and emeritus Professor of Chemistry at the College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio, passed away on March 15, 2024, at the Lodge in Mills River, North Carolina, at the age of 83.

Richard was born in Oberlin, Ohio on April 28, 1940, to Werner Hermann Bromund and Elizabeth H. Bacon Bromund. Werner was a professor of analytical chemistry at Oberlin College from 1937 to 1975 and was one of the major influences on Richard’s life. Werner’s family came from eastern Germany – now part of Poland – and in his later years, Dick worked to trace his ancestry on his father’s side.

Richard’s sister, Mary Elizabeth ‘Marylee’ Bromund, was born in 1944 in Oberlin. After living briefly at three different addresses in Oberlin, Dick and his family moved to 382 Elm Street to live in a house designed and built for the family.

In 1948, thanks to family friendships in Wisconsin on his mother’s side, Richard and his family first visited Stinson Lake, New Hampshire, a small lake in the White Mountains. This place, and the property that his father and mother bought there, rapidly became one of his deepest loves, and with few exceptions, he spent several weeks there every summer until his final visit in 2022.

Richard attended Oberlin Public School from 1946 to 1956, and then, from 1956 to 1958, Mount Hermon School for Boys (as it then was) in Massachusetts from 1956 to 1958, while his father was on leave in Formosa (now Taiwan). Though his time there was short, Richard remained close to Northfield Mount Hermon for the rest of his life.

Richard went to Oberlin College in 1958, where he earned an A.B. in Chemistry, studying under his father. In later years, Richard said that he was a “lab rat” who spent countless hours watching his father work: “I saw what my dad did, and I decided that I wanted to do the same thing.”

While at Oberlin, Richard met Linda Eleanor Wolf, who was born in Rome, New York in 1940. After they graduated from Oberlin in 1962, he and Linda were married in Rome on September 1, 1962, and moved to Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, where Richard received a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry in 1968 and Linda an M.A. in Political Science from The Pennsylvania State University.

Even before receiving his Ph.D., Richard was hired by The College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio, as an Assistant Professor of Chemistry in 1967. One of the dominating events of Richard’s life occurred in 1974, when a campaign led by his students and a number of his colleagues led to his promotion to Associate Professor. He remained deeply grateful to his students, and he repaid their efforts with an intense focus on teaching and mentorship throughout his life. As he put it on his retirement, “I’m much more a teacher than a researcher,” he said. “I may not have been flashy, but I tried to make it interesting.” He became full Professor in 1982, a position he held until his retirement in 2006, when he became an emeritus Professor.

His students regularly spoke of how deeply invested he was in his subject. But even more, they valued the fact that, as one of them put it, “He was always a kind and thoughtful person who put students first. . . . He was definitely energetic, but I thought of him as the quiet person who held everything together behind the scenes.” He remained in regular contact with many of his former students, even from his earliest years in the classroom, until his death.

On June 7, 1968, Richard and Linda had a son, Theodore ‘Ted’ Richard Bromund, who was followed on October 25, 1972, by their daughter, Nicola Kristin Bromund. Richard’s family accompanied him on his first two academic leaves – the first in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, to work at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in 1975-76, and the second in Switzerland, in 1980-1981, where the family lived in Uster, near Zürich, while he worked at the Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (EAWAG) with Kurt Grob, one of the leaders in the field of capillary gas chromatography. He later took leaves at Eli Lily and Company in the laboratory of a former student, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

In the chemistry department he continued research in gas chromatography and environmental topics with students. His emphasis, however, was upon teaching, mentoring, and departmental work. With the increasing sophistication of chemical instrumentation, Richard was the department’s valuable equipment instructor, operator, and fixer. He led the major renovation of Severance Hall in 1998-99.

Taking advantage of the free summers that are one of the compensations of faculty life, Richard and Linda took Ted and Nicola on trips around the United Kingdom in 1981, the U.S. West in 1982, and New England in 1983.

During the academic year, Richard played volleyball with his faculty friends. Richard also refereed youth soccer matches in Wooster, a sporting interest that he kept up for the rest of his life. He was also an enthusiastic and gifted amateur singer and sang bass in Concert Choir at the College, sometimes taking winking delight in embarrassing his children by singing the National Anthem loudly at sporting events. In 1995, Richard and Linda divorced, though they remained friends and continued to live and work at the College, where Linda worked in the Writing Center.

Richard married Virginia Bussert Pett, the Robert E. Wilson Professor of Chemistry at the College, in Wooster on September 30, 2000. Over the next two decades, Richard and Virginia travelled widely together, including to China (where Virginia had family connections) in 1998 and 2018, Colombia in 2004, Costa Rica in 2009, India in 2011, East Africa in 2013, Yellowstone in 2014, Switzerland, Canada, and Grenada in 2015, and New Zealand and Australia in 2019. They both took many photographs on these trips and enjoyed sharing them with others. Richard and Virginia also shared special trips with Virginia’s daughter, Kate, and her husband Vince, and their grandchildren Gabriel and Juliana. The three generations visited Colombia, Costa Rica, and Yellowstone together, while Richard and Virginia continued his family tradition of spending part of each summer at Stinson Lake.

Much of Richard’s love for the Lake stemmed from his love of the outdoors. He enjoyed climbing mountains, hiking, birdwatching, sailing (which he learned in his youth from an older neighbor and friend at the Lake, Ashton Grimes), sailboarding, rowing, chain-sawing (his passion for which led him to lose some of his hearing at an early age), and wood splitting. He fortunately never suffered any ill consequence from his practice of leveling the old cabin by jacking it up while lying underneath it. In 2006-07 he and Virginia planned a new log cabin to be built in precisely the same spot as the old cabin in order to preserve the view. Richard designed a unique movable kitchen counter to accommodate several different seating arrangements.

Richard retired from the College in 2006, followed by Virginia in 2009. They continued to live in Wooster for almost another decade, remaining active in the college community, until they retired to Asheville, North Carolina in 2018 to find better weather and to be closer to Virginia’s daughter Kate Pett, her husband Vince Floriani, Jr., and their two children Gabriel and Juliana.

Richard’s children Nicola and Ted visited regularly from 2019, and the family met every summer at “the Lake” (in Bromund lingo, there is only one lake worth mentioning). In Asheville, his life was limited after 2019 by COVID, but he took an active interest in Asheville and national politics and donated enthusiastically to a variety of ecological and progressive causes.

Richard’s first wife Linda passed away from cancer, and resulting complications, in Wooster, with Ted attending, on May 25, 2020. By this point, Richard’s back, and earlier heart and lung issues, had begun to hold him back. Two back surgeries in 2021 were only partly successful, and his rehabilitation, hampered by listeria, two bouts of COVID, pneumonia, and RSV, never proceeded with the speed or success that he wanted. After several hospitalizations, he moved into The Lodge in 2023, where he was regularly visited by his family.

Apart from his family, Richard’s great passions in life were his students, his teaching, and the Lake. His son Ted became a faculty member himself, earning a Ph.D. (in History) from Yale and teaching there for a decade, while both Ted and Nicola inherited his love of the Lake. He was often quiet, but his enthusiasms for the things he cared about were strong and remained so to the end of his life, when he was always eager to share those passions with those he loved.

Richard is survived by his wife Virginia, his sister Marylee, his son Ted, Ted’s wife Erica Munkwitz, Richard’s daughter Nicola, Nicola’s daughter Mara Francis Wolf Cavanagh, Nicola’s husband MJ Cavanagh, Virginia’s children Janice Lee Pett Ritchey, Janice’s children Cara Lynne Ritchey Jones and Chase Allen Ritchey; Kate Anne Pett, Kate’s husband Vince, and Kate’s children Juliana and Gabriel; and Brian T. Pett and Brian’s wife Racquel.

Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the “Thomas A. Sanborn and Richard H. Bromund Endowed Fund in Chemistry” at the College of Wooster at, or to New Hampshire Lakes at

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